Psoriasis is a skin disease that causes red, itchy scaly patches, most commonly on the knees, elbows, trunk and scalp. Not only it affects one’s looks, but it can also seriously affect a person’s quality of life and mental health.
The symptoms can vary from person to person. Common signs and symptoms include red patches of skin covered with thick, silvery scales, dry, cracked skin that may bleed or itch, thickened, pitted or ridged nails, swollen and stiff joints. Many people who are predisposed to psoriasis may be free of symptoms for years until the disease is triggered by some environmental factor.
While psoriasis is a common, chronic disease with no cure, there are ways to help you manage symptoms and develop lifestyle habits and coping strategies to live a better life. It is important to know that the disease tends to go through cycles, flaring for a few weeks or months, then subsiding for a while.
Anyone can develop psoriasis, but people with family history of this disease, people who smoke or are subjected to stress, are at a higher risk. So in order to prevent psoriasis one should make healthier life choices and take care of the stress levels.
Treatment of psoriasis
Psoriasis is a treatable condition and there are many treatments available to deal with it. Treatment of psoriasis aims to stop skin cells from growing so quickly and to remove scales. However, identifying the most effective one can be challenging. Your healthcare professional can suggest topical solutions such as creams and ointments, phototherapy or exposing your skin to UV-light and medications that work throughout the entire body.
Different types of treatments are often used in combination and you need to review your health plan regularly to find the best solution.
Topical treatments are usually the first used for mild to moderate psoriasis. Depending on the case, the doctor might prescribe emollients, steroid creams, vitamin D analogue creams, Dithranol or calcineurin inhibitors.
Coal tar, a thick and heavy oil is probably the oldest treatment for psoriasis. It’s not known how it works exactly, but it can reduce scales, inflammation and itchiness.
Some people find that creams and ointments are very effective to control their condition but it may take up to six weeks to have any effect. If you suffer from scalp psoriasis, a combination of shampoo and ointment is recommended.
Phototherapy slows down the production of skin cells and is an effective treatment for some types of psoriasis that have not responded to creams.
You can undergo ultraviolet B (UVB) or ultraviolet A (PUVA) light therapy. In case of PUVA you’ll first be given a tablet containing compounds called psoralens, making you more sensitive to light. PUVA penetrates your skin more deeply than UVB and it can be used with severe psoriasis.
Side effects include nausea, headache, burning and itchiness. After psoralens you may have to wear special glasses for 24 hours to protect your eyes from the sun and prevent the development of cataracts.If your psoriasis is severe or other treatments have not worked, you may be prescribed systemic treatments by a specialist. Systemic treatments work throughout the entire body.
Pills, capsules and injections
Pills, capsules and injections are used if other treatments haven’t worked. Medication can be very effective in treating psoriasis but they all have potentially serious side effects, so it’s mandatory to speak to your doctor first, before deciding to use this treatment.
Change of lifestyle and alternative medicine treatment
Most of these treatments must be prescribed by your health professional, depending on the severity of your condition and how responsive your skin has been to previous treatment. However, there are some alternative medicine remedies that you can try in addition to your GP’s recommendations.
Avoiding stress, one of the triggers of the disease, is one of the main alternative treatments, suggested by experts. They also insist on systematic exercise as it releases oxytocin, the so-called “hormone of happiness”.
On top of that, here are some alternative therapies that have been deemed generally safe and might reduce itching and scaling in case of mild to moderate psoriasis.
- Aloe extract cream. You might need to use it several times a day for a month or more to see any improvement in your skin.
- Fish oil supplements. Used in combination with UVB therapy, they might reduce the amount of affected skin. Applying fish oil to the affected skin and covering it with a dressing for six hours a day for four weeks might improve scaling.
- Oregon grape (barberry). Applied to the skin, it may reduce the severity of psoriasis.
In order to live better with psoriasis, you can also try RANKEL Smart Life. This portable laser device is widely used to prevent and treat dermatological issues in clinics, but it is also suitable for use at home. Not only it helps stabilise one’s hormonal, immune and nervous systems, but it also helps to reduce pain. It is absolutely safe to use and has no contraindications.